With only a few days to go now until the start of the Home Nations series, the first event starts with the English Open in Crawley on the 14/10/19.
The English Open was won last year by Stuart Bingham but now a year on the rivalry for this formidable title has swelled.
Ronnie O’Sullivan returns to the snooker flock for this one and having just played an exhibition in Romania, impressed the local audience with an impressive maximum break.
O’Sullivan’s strategy of minimising his appearances on the main tour seems to be working with titles galore when he shows his face. Like an athletic race, the runners behind Ronnie are far and wide with the early tournaments of the season being taken by different players. Shaun Murphy ended his drought in China by winning the China Championship after a defiant fight back from Mark Williams, taking a decider for Shaun to cross the line first and claim the title.
Murphy will definitely get to the latter stages of the English Open but as we well know that snooker has moved on and every competition is a new page and chapter, no player can guarantee success based on formidable success in the previous event.
With all 128 players being allowed to compete in the English Open, there is always a greater chance of a lesser known player breaking through. Yang Bingtoa was a surprising winner of the Riga Masters but had fallen flat since. Many Chinese players are starting to threaten to top 32 but up to now haven’t managed to grace the finalist stage let alone claim silverware.
There are a handful of players outside the Chinese set who could claim gold in Crawley. Joining Stuart Bingham, the possible contenders could be Mark Allen, Kyren Wilson or Mark Williams with Ding Junhui a possibility if he can sort out his mindset and Neil Robertson if he can figure out how to use his GPS.
Robertson May turn up this time unlike his no show for his qualifier for the World Open when he went to the wrong Barnsley. Thankfully if my geography serves me right, there is only one Crawley.
With a total prize fund of £405,000 and a winner’s prize of £70,000, this instalment of the Home Nations series really is a potential springboard for any player who wishes to be propelled into the snooker limelight.
With each individual event being named after a past player, this edition pays homage to Steve Davis. Davis was known for being a granite opponent in the baize and either had the other player with the cue ball glued to the baulk cushion or the seat of their trousers glued to their seat.
Any player who wins this title walks in his footsteps and shows the 128 how the game should be played and how far the bar has been raised and the standard required to equal or overtake it.
Remember last year when the Sussex man and multiple Six Reds champion, Mark Davis came out of the snooker shadows to storm the field and reach the final. Mark Davis is a fantastic player and can beat any player on the day if he is playing well. Now in his late forties, Davis proves that longevity is now rife in snooker and on the the day he gave Bingham a run for his money, narrowly losing 7-9 in the final.
There are some mouthwatering matches on offer in this year’s first round with Liang Wenbo up against Kyren Wilson and Martin Gould versus Sunny Akani to name but a few. Jimmy White also makes a welcome return with a first round clash against a Chinese player, Bai Langning. We can also look forward to seeing one the young talents, Duane Jones in action. The English Open breathes fire into the heart of the snooker season and lights the touch paper for a run of tournaments that lead up to Christmas including the UK Championship.
Here are the closing stages of last years final for you to enjoy…..
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